Jan. 20, 2017
By Brad Muller | More Features
The South Carolina baseball program participated in several community service events during its second annual MLK Week of Service, as the Gamecocks looked to reach fans in Columbia and the entire Midlands community.
MLK Week of Service started Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as youngsters from Epworth Children’s Home visited Founders Park for events with the entire team. The Gamecocks gave the children a tour of the facilities, including the locker room, weight room and batting cages, while playing non-baseball related games on the field. A little bit later, the student-athletes shared lunch with their visitors and signed autographs.
“It’s great for the kids to have role models and people they can look up to,” said Tom Parker, Activities Director for Epworth Children’s Home. “It’s great for them to see guys who have graduated high school, and who took their academics seriously to get them to the next level. The kids love being here.”
“This is something that allows us to give back to the community, and it gives us a chance to remember who we’re playing for,” said senior pitcher Reed Scott. “These kids love coming here. Just seeing how happy they were to get to be here is why we love to do this.”
On Wednesday, the Gamecocks visited with veterans at William Jennings Bryan Dorn V.A. Medical Center in the morning, thanking them for serving their country while talking a little baseball as well.
“It means a lot to come back and give thanks to these guys who have given so much to our country and give us the ability to play the game that we play,” said sophomore infielder L.T. Tolbert. “It’s a huge honor to come in here and talk to the veterans. It’s very humbling just to see the sacrifices they’ve given for us to have the opportunities that we do have.”
“It’s an honor,” said junior pitcher John Parke. “These guys have laid their lives on the line. It’s certainly humbling. I’ve been to a V.A. hospital before with my grandfather, who fought in World War II. Every time you come, it’s something different. It’s a unique opportunity for us.”
“Having visitors like this means a lot to the veterans,” Said Tammy Finney, chief of voluntary service at the Dorn V.A. Medical Center. “It means they’re not forgotten. It means that their service wasn’t in vain. It means that they are revered for their selfless contribution to our nation so that the young men and women who come through have the opportunity to live in the land of the free. Freedom isn’t free.”
It was fun getting to know these kids. This was a great opportunity for us to give back.
On Wednesday night, the Gamecocks spent time with the City of Columbia youth attending the South Carolina men’s basketball game against Florida that evening.
On Thursday, the student-athletes went to Arden Elementary School to assist with book distribution, in addition to reading to the children and talking about why reading is important. The Gamecocks were treated like all-stars by the young students.
“This was a great opportunity,” said junior infielder Madison Stokes. “We enjoy doing things like this and talking to kids about the importance of reading. We had fun with the kids. They might not know who we are, but with them knowing that we play a college sport, I think they sort of look up to us and maybe we can motivate them a little bit.”
The week concluded on Friday with the Gamecocks making a visit to Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital where they had an opportunity to visit with patients and play some games with the children.
“These kids are going through a tough time, so it’s good for us just to come out here and talk with them and play with them,” said sophomore pitcher Adam Hill. “It was fun getting to know these kids. This was a great opportunity for us to give back. These kids seemed to be in great spirits.”
For the week, the student-athletes expressed how the service activities helped them keep things in perspective.
“You sit back and realize there is a lot more to life than baseball,” Scott said. “You realize that the struggles we go through when we’re working out and training pale in comparison to what these kids go through on an everyday basis. It helps us realize how blessed we are to be a part of this.”
South Carolina opens the 2017 baseball season on Friday, February 17, against UNC Greensboro at Founders Park.
MLK Week of Service Photos
- Women's Sports
- Fan Zone
- Gamecock Club
- Academic Services
- Active Gamecocks
- Annual Reports
- Brag Points
- Communications and Public Relations
- Community Outreach
- Compliance Services
- Facility Rentals
- Facility Projects
- Football Strength & Conditioning
- Gamecock Gala
- Gamecock Student-Athlete Promise
- General Releases
- All Access